When you got divorced, your only child was still fairly young, and the court split the parenting time between you and your ex. Now, though, your child is a young teenager and has been saying that they don’t want to live with you any longer. They want your ex to have sole physical custody.
This is, understandably, a hard thing to hear as a parent. But, beyond that, you’ll probably find yourself wondering if it is even possible. Can your child choose to live with your ex, even though the court divided custody so that you would both be involved?
Children generally can’t exclusively choose where they will live
Overall, a minor is generally not going to be given the exclusive ability to make this decision. He or she is not an adult and therefore the court can make decisions that it considers to be in the child’s best interests. If the court does not see a reason for the change — such as domestic abuse or neglect on the part of one parent — and they still think that it is best for the child to see both parents, they can keep the order the way that it was written.
That said, the courts in California will usually listen to a child’s perspective and wishes after they are 14 years of age. As children get older, the court may give more weight to these preferences. So, while a host of other factors also matter, your child’s desire to live with your ex could play a role, especially if they seek a modification. But that children cannot make the decision against the court’s ruling, which is also against your wishes.
Don’t try to handle a contentious custody case alone
Custody cases like this turn contentious quickly, and they can be very complicated. You need to know about all of the legal options you have. Sometimes, there are solutions available that you may not have considered.